"I could tell when he was auditioning that he was super talented," Geena Davis tells PEOPLE of Brad Pitt in this week's cover story

Brad Pitt hasn’t forgotten his roots.

The actor, who picked up his first acting Oscar on Sunday, made sure to thank actress Geena Davis during his speech. While it might seem random to some, it was a sweet nod to his breakout role in 1991’s Thelma & Louise opposite the iconic actress.

Speaking to PEOPLE about the role, Davis, 64, remembers being impressed by a fresh-faced Pitt, then 26.

“He just has ‘it.’ I could tell when he was auditioning that he was super talented,” she tells PEOPLE in this week’s cover story. “He has done so many incredible things over the years. I don’t think that it is unusual for him to be honored. He really is the ‘star’ of the moment, which is fabulous, and it is just great to see.”

Brad Pitt Throwback Roles
Thelma & Louise
| Credit: Fotos International/Getty

Pitt, now 56, won Best Supporting Actor at this year’s show for his role in Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, a film that also earned him the Golden Globe, Screen Actor’s Guild, Critics’ Choice Award and BAFTA Award in the same category.

“Listen, I’m a bit gobsmacked,” he said from the stage on Oscars night.” I’m not one to look back, but this has made me do so. I think of my folks taking me to the drive-in to see Butch and Sundance. And loading up my car and moving out here.”

2/24/2020 cover of people magazine featuring brad pitt

He continued, “And to Geena [Davis] and Ridley [Scott] for giving me my first shot, to all the wonderful people I’ve met along the way to standing here now . . . once upon a time in Hollywood? Ain’t that the truth. And to my kids, who color everything I do, I adore you.”

For more about Pitt, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now.

But while Pitt was happy to soak the win in, and later celebrated at afterparties like the Governor’s Ball and Vanity Fairs, he hinted after his speech that his next act might just include him stepping back from the spotlight.

“I think it’s time to go disappear for a while and make stuff,” he said backstage at the Oscars.